Late winter-early spring 2019 Studio Bloem started a new research project, ‘The Perennial Kitchen. This project explores the use of perennial plants, shrubs and trees in the creation of food and drink. Perennials, shrubs and trees have the advantage of regular crops as they reduce disturbance of the soil. Further benefits include:
They are less likely to suffer of diseases,
Often are better for wildlife as many of them are native and often support pollinators, and
Overall they require less work as there is no need to sow them each year.
The Perennial Kitchen will not only explore growing these crops, but also what to do with them. I am hoping to share my many explorations with you. One such exploration is ‘Devonian Inebriation’, an art/research project creating wines based on the Devon Landscapes, whose beauty is not the only thing that is intoxicating. This project aims to create a new view/taste of the landscapes that surround us. Besides seeing them I hope to give people a taste of them.
This project will need to run for several years to perfect the various recipes and will need to follow the seasons as each season will bring its own produce. Currently Primroses and cherry blossoms are featuring strongly within our landscapes. So I have attempted to make a champagne/sparkling wine, based on both species, named ‘Spring bubbles’. I opted for a champagne, as it matches the freshness of spring, and is livelier than a normal wine. Here is the recipe:
3L primroses (flowers only)
1.5L Cherry Blossom (Any blossom will do, but I would suggest using prunus spinosa, sloe blossom, as it is very prevalent and you want to keep your prunus avium flowers to form cherries)
All in all you need about a small bucket of the 2 combined,
1kg Granulated Sugar
2 oranges, zest and juice
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1 packet of sparkling wine yeast
1tsp yeast nutrient (optional)
The primroses I have used come from my garden, please be aware when picking in the wild as they form an early staple for pollinators.
Ensure all your equipment is sanitised, prior to starting. I use a fermentation bin with lid.
Bring the water to the boil and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the zest and juice of the oranges and the lemon.
Stir very well and then allow to cool to 21°C. Add the primroses, yeast and yeast nutrient if using.
Cover fermentation bin with the lid and leave for 2 weeks at room temperature, I shake the bin every so often.
After two weeks strain the liquid through a muslin into sterilised bottles.
Leave for another week or until liquid goes clear, at which point the sparkling wine is ready to be drunk.
I hope this gives you a different perspective on the humble primrose which currently colours our hill slopes and highway verges a pastelly yellow.